Lauren Aquilina @ Hoxton Hall 28th January 2016

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Hoxton Hall was playing host to a special evening by the one and only Lauren Aquilina. This was the 4th time I had attended this venue and the last time was to see Anna Calvi back in 2011. In those 5 years Hoxton Hall has changed, gone was the extended stage. Now the stage was semi circular which was a bit reminiscent to the stage for Florence at Alexandra Palace. Anyhow I arrived at the venue at 2.30pm and I may have misjudged that an hour or two. But in that time I saw Lauren arrive plus everyone had to evacuate as the smoke machine tripped off the fire alarm.

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Fast forward to 9pm there was some confusion over how long the set would be. Some fans thought it would be only 15 minutes as Lauren tweeted someone that the label said she could do a set of 15 minutes after he requested Broke. Well the guy does A&R for Island Records so I guess that was a joke but then if you look at the fact she played 3 new songs, maybe Lauren was referring to that. So it was around 8.50pm when things got into full swing. Aquilina’s drummer and guitarist/ keyboard player took to the stage and moments later the main lady graced the stage to whoops of delight. It was Echoes which kickstarted this special evening. Now this is the most recent offering by Lauren and she even performed it at Tate Britain. Whereas I fully knew all the songs that were performed (bar the new ones) it was the very first time witnessing them live. Now this tune was co-written with Oh Wonder’s Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. Now I really adored this cut it was smothered with plenty of synth goodness. The verses were really catching and despite Aquilina being behind a keyboard it didn’t stop her moving to the beat. Now this basically revolves around a difficult relationship with a boy who was trouble. Anyhow this enchanting tune was perfectly delivered and was extremely sleek at the same time. Once over it was then onto the first oldie of the evening and this being King which originally featured on the Fools EP. Lauren embarked onto this tune straight after finishing Echoes. Still this whimsical cut was very light/ captivating. My favourite part of this enchanting song had to be its middle 8 “There’s method in my madness/ There’s no logic in your sadness”. King which sounded quite chirpy was flawlessly delivered. Aquilina’s vocals were simply out of this world and plenty of fans sang along.

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“Hello. Thankyou so much for coming. This show sold out in less than an hour. I still can’t believe anyone would buy a ticket to come and see me. This show is about me playing songs from my album to you for the first time. This is very exciting but also daunting even for me. It took 2 1/2 heartbreaks for me to write this album and this one came from the half” Lauren Aquilina said before diving straight into Kicks. With steady paced verses and a thumping chorus, Kicks had an anthem feel to it. “We’ve got mixed emotions/ That’s when things get complicated/ Victims of the loneliness/ Find yourself in dark spaces” What I really liked about this other than the thumping chorus was the fact the lyrics were straight to the point and you can picture what is happening.I definitely look forward to hear the studio version. Now Lauren delivered this with plenty of gusto and it even had me moving on the spot. Next was a song Aquilina wrote last year when she was feeling Low and hated all of her songs. It was then onto Low which featured on the recent EP Ocean. This was a spectacular song and was delivered sublimely. Aquilina used a voice synthesizer to also create a robotic sound. Still Low was an epic song with lyrics which were straight to the point plus they described the pitfuls of the music industry and negativity which can come with it. My highlight had to be the fast paced middle 8 “Too deep to see the waterline/ Too young to know that I’ll be fine/ The fragile always fall apart/ You make my ache your art”.

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It was then onto a double dosage of brand new songs. Hurt Any Less wasn’t even alluded to in the free 8 page booklet that everyone in attendance received. “When I started writing this album I knew that I had to treat it like a 2nd album because I already released 3 EP’s worth of material. I love pop music, but I was really scared of it” Lauren said before going into the poppiest song she has written. Anyhow I really adored this as this was a majestical tune which left me utterly captivated. The lyrics were spot on, the melody gave it an uplifting feel and all in all this was simply a right epic. I found Hurt Any Less to be an upbeat fast flowing number with lyrics which just embedded themselves into my brain. “This is actually the very last song that I wrote for the album. It’s quite sad, this guy I really liked kissed someone and didn’t tell me” Lauren said before getting stuck into How Would You Like It which is a bitchy title which makes me think of getting even. Still this was a wondrous tune and the fact it was just Lauren and the keyboard left me utterly entranced. “How would you like it/ If I tore you up into pieces/ Tell me/ How would you like it/ If I left you high on the ceiling/ Now he’s got my dress on the floor/ I breathe a name that isn’t yours/ And let you go a little more/ So how would you like it”. I really liked this newie, it was tender, slightly emotional the lyrics paint the story of giving that person a dose of their own medicine. Once over it was then onto a song that was a bit happier and this taking the form of Midnight Mouths. Now Aquilina has been playing this for a while now and this was a delectable song with plenty of synth goodness. This was a shimmering tune with soothing lyrics which left me spellbound. The evening then came to an end with Fools. Before going into this Lauren thanked everyone for attended as we had the chance to hear songs that featured on the album before anyone else. This was delivered at a fast pace aided by a sublime vocal performance. My favourite part had to be the middle 8. The singable part of this superb song was the line “What if we ruin it all and we love like fools, And all we have we loose”. It was easy to say that Fools is a pleasing number which was highly addictive.

“This is about you and these songs becoming yours” Aquilina said before mentioning about the blackboard that fans could leave comments on outside. Now Ocean was the choice of encore and it was a song about being free. This was an incredible cut with two outstanding verses and an epic instrumental smothered with swirling synths. The lyrics were on point and the slow smoothness left me in a trance.

SET LIST

Echoes
King
Kicks
Low
Hurt Any Less
How Would You Like It?
Midnight Mouths
Fools

ENCORE

Ocean

OVERALL: This was one outstanding evening which gets me excited about the thought of Lauren’s debut album. Every song performed was a right cracker, despite the majority being songs already out there the newies Kicks, Hurt Any Less and How Would You Like It were simply incredible. I even enjoyed the support slot by Archie Smith.

I feel really privileged to be in attendance, Hoxton Hall is such a lovely venue and it was the perfect choice to host this one off. Aquilina was on form and she didn’t just stand behind the keyboard which is always a nice thing. In the past 5ish years Lauren has grown as an artist, not only is she a fantastic singer but she is an awesome song writer as well.

Finally as promised Lauren Aquilina waited by the merch table to meet fans and give sweaty hugs.

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